Father’s Day Weekend in Photos

***If you didn’t last week, don’t forget to enter my Food Should Taste Good chips giveaway!! There are 2 days left to enter!***

Hope you all had a great Father’s Day weekend. Mine was certainly filled with good food, that’s for sure:

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On Friday night, we made a deeelicious dinner. Chicken and shrimp in this soy-marmalade glaze, accompanied with sesame grilled veggies (sauteed a ton of veggies & just added sesame oil at the end), corn, and cilantro-lime rice. I love being able to make a “fancy”, more involved dinner on Friday nights. Usually during the week I only have energy to cook a chicken breast, put some fries on the side and call it a meal.

We also enjoyed some great Pinot and watched approximately 283974 hours of Raising Hope and the final season of The Office.

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For the second week in a row, I trekked out (ok ok, it’s only 4 blocks from my house) to the Midtown Farmers Market. There were a few strange finds, including green cauliflower (there was also a yellow one) and a Kombucha truck that had several kinds of Kombucha on tap! I haven’t yet joined this health-food bandwagon, but if they’re there again next week I might have to give it a shot!

I also fought the urge to buy another $5 thing of Avocado-Cilantro Hummus from Zena Foods (possibly the best dip to ever enter my mouth), because I’m hoping to try to recreate it myself soon. Keep a look out 🙂

20130617-100147.jpgAfter some shopping and EDC DIY-ing with my friend Lisa (she’s the one attending EDC…I’m just helping her bedazzle her outfits!), T-Man and I saw This Is the End with our friend Amanda. Definitely worth seeing in the theater. An enormously stupid movie, but it kept me laughing the entire time! Afterwards, we grabbed a beer at a new-to-us dive bar, The Hideaway.

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Had a nice hearty breakfast on Sunday morning…scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and some cherries from the market. Then, I went to get some ingredients for Father’s Day dinner and FINALLY found some Chobani Flip at Safeway!!! Wahoo! I snagged one at Blend Retreat last month and accidentally left it in our hotel fridge haha. I haven’t tried it yet…waiting for a morning when I don’t have time to prep overnight oats the night before. #ChobaniNerd

Quick stop at kickball: {click to view video}

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We almost won a game for once! We usually get creamed…like…shut out creamed. But we ended up losing 6-7 at the bottom of the 6th (which is the last inning). I think it’s because my dad came to cheer us on! 🙂 Also maybe because it was only 90 degrees outside, and not 113.

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Flash forward to Father’s Day Dinner. Much like last year, most of the meal was cooked on the grill: chicken, veggies (carrots, summer squash, and green cauliflower), and Pacific snapper…because my dad loves fish but never gets it at home! I brushed a mango-cilantro sauce onto the meat…it was soooo good. Might have to recreate it for the blog soon! Finished it all off with a kale salad with strawberries, gorgonzola & poppyseed dressing. Perfect summer meal! Hope my dad enjoyed it!

What did you do for Father’s Day?

When you have time to spend on cooking, what is your meal of choice?

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Blend Retreat Swag + Chocolate Protein Muffins

Sooo, if you haven’t heard, we got a lot of free stuff at Blend.

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A yoga mat from NatureMade? Seriously?! 😀

photo cred: Becky @ Olives n’ Wine

We found all of this waiting for us in the swag bag we got upon checking in on Friday afternoon. And just… WOW.

Additionally, there was an expo room set up with tables featuring even more sponsors, with MORE products set up for us to take as we pleased. What? Like…REALLY? We were in disbelief all weekend at all the great companies who want to promote their products to healthy living bloggers.

The funniest moment had to be when we opened our bags and saw:

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coconut oil and vanilla beans!

Becky, Carly and I started freaking out. I’m pretty sure I was jumping up and down in excitement…we were in food blogger heaven.

We thought that was it for the swag, but to our surprise, we walked back to our rooms on Saturday post-breakfast and pre-hike to find:

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MORE swag?!

So you get the point…there was a lot of swag.

The weekend concluded with a closing ceremony on Sunday, which included a raffle. Only, it wasn’t just a couple of items being raffled off…I think almost everyone won something!

{both photos courtesy of Lindsay @ Lindsays List}

2 of those 3 Onnit goodie boxes ended up going to Becky and I!

photo cred: Becky at Olives n’ Wine

Onnit has a lot of very interesting products…namely, their supplements. Their supplement Alpha Brain was one of the first nootropic supplements on the market. It is supposed to help with focus, creativity, and apparently it enables lucid dreams as well. I think Stron Bone & Joint might be a little more my speed, but I am definitely excited to try some of these out!

When I got home, I was determined to make the most out of all the free stuff I got, and save some money on groceries this week in the process. So I went to Safeway and got the essentials: bread, Alexia frozen fries because I’m obsessed, and mixed greens for salad. With some coupons from my swag bag, I also bought:

Yogurt and almond milk from Chobani and Silk, two Blend sponsors!

So basically, the swag legacy continues.

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I decided to use my Hemp Force protein from Onnit, Chobani yogurt, and Musselman’s apple sauce (yep, we even had apple sauce in our swag bag!) to make some chocolate protein muffins. At only about 110 calories and less than a gram of fat, they’re just as skinny as my Lemon Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins, but thanks to the hemp protein they pack a bit more fiber and protein!

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Skinny Chocolate Protein Muffins
verrry loosely based on these Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes ~11 muffins

2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 banana, mashed
3/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla (optional, but recommended)
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or mixture of all purpose and whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 scoops chocolate-flavored protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 425F.

Start by mixing all the wet ingredients together in a bowl: applesauce through vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients and whisk together. If you are using hemp protein powder, the only ingredient you need to sift is the cocoa (if you sift the hemp, some bits might not make it through). Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. The mixture will be thick.

Spray a muffin tin with oil, and divide batter among tins. (Because of the low fat content, I don’t recommend using paper liners) It should almost reach the top. Place muffins in oven for 5 minutes. Then, keeping muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375F and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Check the muffins with a toothpick: if it comes out cleanly, they are done. If not, give them another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the muffins sit for 3-5 minutes before removing to cool on a rack. I used a butter knife to loosely release the muffins.

NOTES: Hemp definitely has a strong taste, so next time I use hemp protein powder in this recipe, I will definitely add vanilla (I didn’t in this batch), chocolate chips, and maybe even cinnamon to off-set the flavor. Even so, these have great texture and are rather large for 110 calories!

Paired with even more Greek yogurt, this made quite the protein-packed breakfast!

Also, it was pretty much dessert for breakfast. I can always get down with that.

Have a great 3-day weekend!

Do you ever use protein powder in your smoothies or baking? What is your favorite kind?

I can’t wait to try the other protein/energy powders we got in our bag: Vega, Plant Fusion, and Fitmixer!

Blend Retreat – The FOOD!

Hi everyone! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably saw a lot of this this weekend:

Utah

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I spent the weekend in BEAUTIFUL Park City, Utah attending Blend Retreat. I expect to dedicate quite a few posts this and next week to recapping the event and sharing what I learned about all the great sponsors {and my fellow bloggers!}, but today I wanted to focus on one aspect I think you all will love: the FOOD!

The retreat included several hosted meals between Friday and Sunday: a Cocktail Hour and Dinner on Friday, and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. There were also a few Snack Breaks throughout the weekend, which consisted of some of the event’s sponsors setting out goodies for us to sample. All the food was great {not to mention healthy!}, and I was super excited to learn a lot about some new-to-me brands!

FRIDAY
Snack Break sponsored by Justin’s Nut Butter & Attune Foods

After Carly and I arrived in Salt Lake City, we met up with Becky, who drove us to the Hyatt Escala Lodge. Soon after checking in {and freaking out at how much SWAG we got!} we headed to the first Snack Break of the weekend.

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I was pretty hungry at this point, haha, and had about 20 million graham crackers and entirely too much nut butter. Justin’s was sampling their regular and maple almond butters, regular and honey peanut butters, and chocolate hazelnut butter to spread on Erewhon graham crackers. My favorite combo was definitely graham crackers + honey peanut butter, but I know from experience that the maple almond butter is good enough to eat from a spoon!

photo cred: Becky at Olives n’ Wine

Becky, Carly and me!

Cocktail Hour sponsored by Silk

Next up, we all changed out of our travel clothes and into some nicer ‘duds.

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The hotel put out a pretty amazing spread of appetizers, including crudites with ranch or cilantro-lime dressing, AMAAAZING spring rolls with Thai peanut sauce, and spicy black bean cakes. If I didn’t know that we had a dinner immediately following, I totally would have just eaten this as dinner! It was all delicious.

photo cred: Carly at Snack Therapy

The only picture I think I have of me dressed up, oops! Carly and I traveled from Sacramento together, and can I just say that I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy? It takes a special person to keep things light and entertaining when you’re flying home from a fun weekend on like 2 hours of sleep 😉

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ANYWAY, back to cocktail hour! The restaurant at the Hyatt Escala Lodge is pretty gorgeous.

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On the Cocktail menu were three specialty Silkology drinks, all featuring Silk Almond Milk. Being a ginger lover, I of course went for the Ginger Refresher: rum, ginger liqueur, almond milk, bitters, agave & mint. It was one of the most interesting cocktails I’ve ever had, that’s for sure! But it all somehow seemed to work.

There was also a photo booth!

photo cred: our 4th roomie, Arlene

Dinner + Dessert

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Salads!

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Entrees!

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I ended up with (clockwise, from top): mixed greens with Chobani dressing, grilled veggies, Carrot Ginger soup, herb roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes, and a bulgur salad. And I later snuck a bite of Brittney’s quinoa cake, which was so. good.

I loved chatting over dinner with Debra from Miles to Run, and Gena who owns and operates Bake All the Things down in Southern California!

The dessert offerings were also pretty amazing:

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Panna cotta featuring Chobani

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Apple Cobbler

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And.. Berry Tart! Which is what I went with 🙂

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Obviously I couldn’t wait to dig in before taking a picture 😉

SATURDAY

Breakfast sponsored by The Laughing Cow and Muesli Fusion

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On the menu for breakfast was delicious bagels and Smooth Sensations Cream Cheese Spread from The Laughing Cow. I loved the savory flavors – chive/onion and garden vegetables!

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I went back to try a little bowl of muesli from Muesli Fusion and Silk almond milk. I had never tried muesli before and I may be hooked – it is basically granola without all the added sugar and fat!

Snack Break with Onnit Labs and Miss USA

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Here are Orlando and Whitney of Onnit Labs sampling their nut butters and hemp protein products. They were serving up their walnut-almond-cashew trilogy butter and macadamia cacao cherry trilogy butter on rice cakes, and blending up chocolate hemp protein shakes!

Oh, and you may have noticed that Whitney also happens to be Miss United States 2012! I had a lot of time to get to know her this weekend at dinner on Friday and out on the town Saturday night and she is seriously the full package – healthy, happy, fit, and hilarious! Um and obviously she is gorgeous 😉 Can’t wait to check out her podcast Women Against Mediocrity.

SUNDAY
Breakfast sponsored by Chobani

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Chobani was the sponsor of the entire retreat, so their products were sprinkled throughout most of our meals, but they got their moment to shine on Sunday morning!

In addition to fruit, they had a yogurt/granola/oatmeal station and pancakes made with Chobani in them.

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The pancakes were so good! Greek yogurt really made them light and fluffy. I also was super excited to FINALLY be able to try Chobani Flip, but I accidentally left it in our hotel room’s fridge! D’oh.

There was also an Omelet Bar, which I attempted to wait in line for but gave up after 10 minutes of waiting. I just went back for more yogurt and fixin’s!

So as you can see, I definitely did not starve this weekend!

A super special thank you to Lindsay, Katie and Janetha for again hosting this great event. It was so lovely meeting you all in person, and you did a great job!

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks, including details about all the cool companies at the retreat, all the fitness events {AKA a really beautiful hike}, and a post about where we stayed and what to do in Park City!

Have you ever been to a blogging conference, or another kind of professional retreat?

Did we meet at Blend?? Leave me a comment so we can stay in touch, and feel free to ‘borrow’ my photos!

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

As you all may have imagined with my days of silence, it has been crazy times over here at Blonde Ambition headquarters (<– totally a real place).

I worked 10.5 hours on Friday, received a staggering 100 emails between Monday and Tuesday, and worked another 10.5 hours on Wednesday, but now it is all over and done with. Breathing a sigh of relief until the next big thing (which is…a committee hearing on Monday. Argh)

Anyway, I know I bragged last week about being able to come up with meals even when I’m busy during the week. I’d be lying if I told you that I made every meal at home this week. (I had a Caesar Salad at our Symposium on Weds, pizza at dodgeball last night, and was belatedly treated to Administrative Professionals Day lunch today) But considering I didn’t have time to do Sunday Food Prep this week, my other meals weren’t so bad…in part, thanks to my realization that I can make a damn good tzatziki sauce:

This random sandwich came together on Monday and consisted of 2 fried eggs, alfalfa sprouts (one of my fave sandwich ingredients), and a heavy smear of tzatziki sauce. I ate it with a side of potato wedges that I dipped in the rest of the sauce. Aaaaamazing.

Our Legislative Symposium closed out on Wednesday with a Cocktail hour and, after a couple of glasses of Chardonnay and entirely too many crackers and cheese, I finally got home around 7pm and decided I needed more sustenance. Some roasted vegetables and my new favorite fresh, fat-free dipping sauce were exactly what the doctor ordered.

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I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a large tub of fat-free plain Chobani in my fridge. It’s a great healthy substitute for some not-so-healthy baking ingredients, makes sauces creamy and fresh, and if you love making dips, it is a perfect alternative to sour cream or mayonnaise.

Who wants hot dip when it’s 85 degrees outside? Tzatziki is a perfect warm-weather condiment. All you need to transform the sometimes-tart plain Greek yogurt into a fresh tzatziki sauce is a little bit of cucumber, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some herby dill.

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Just make sure you’ve got enough of whatever vehicle you’re scoopin’ at the sauce with…because you’re gonna want to use your fingers if you run out and there’s still tzatziki left 😉

Now who’s got a killer falafel recipe? I sense a perfect combo in the works….!

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
makes ~1 cup

1/2 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4-1/3 cup cucumber, peeled & de-seeded, then either finely diced or shredded
~1 tbsp fresh dill – OR – 1/4 tsp dried dill
juice of 1/2 lemon

Prepare cucumber. If you want a chunky sauce, then finely dice the cucumber. If not, grating it is fine too. I actually like to do a combination of both!

Combine ingredients. Taste and adjust according to your preference. For best results, prepare sauce first and let it sit in the fridge while you prepare the rest of your meal.

Use as a dipping sauce or spread on bread as part of a delicious sandwich!

Note: if you use regular (non-Greek) plain yogurt, most tzatziki recipes will require that you strain the yogurt over a period of at least 1-2 hours. This is to avoid wateriness when it comes in contact with the cucumber.

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Happy weekend!

How to Eat Well if You’re a Busy 20-Something

My dear blog, you have been neglected this week. My dear blends (blogfriends), you have been neglected as well. To make a long story short, work has been cray cray. And it will continue to be cray cray until our Legislative Symposium is over and done with on Wednesday.

As an apology, I offer you pictures of the food I have been enjoying. Because even with work being as busy as it is, I’ve mostly managed to eat a homemade lunch at least 4 days out of every week, and have eaten dinner at home just as often. (OK, so yesterday I had an Amy’s microwave burrito for lunch. Sorry I’m not sorry.)

Let these photos serve as inspiration! Join me – let’s prep our food on Sundays and eat well during the week. No slaving away in the kitchen necessary…unless you’re into that sort of thing 🙂

Breakfast

avocadotoast

Avocado toast. This one really got some mixed feedback on Instagram…apparently not everyone thinks avocados are the best thing ever invented EVER. Who knew? {on a related note, leave it to my family members to tell me my food looks gross, ha!} Prep time: 5 minutes.

overnightoats

These are last night/this morning’s Overnight Oats. 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond-coconut milk, 1/4 cup plain nonfat Chobani, half a banana and some mango. This was the first time I ever actually finished overnight oats! Usually cold oatmeal makes me gag. I credit the Chobani…their plain flavor is actually palatable! Prep time: 5 minutes the night before.

kindbar

At the end of the 5K I ran, they had boxes of KIND Bars for all the participants to take. I grabbed, err, 4 different flavors to sample.  This one was my ABSOLUTE favorite. The chocolate and cherries make it taste like candy!

Lunch

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This is how most of my lunches go – I make a pot of some kind of grain/legume on Friday night, mix it up with veggies, and then eat it throughout the week with a tortilla (or in this case, tortilla chips). Prep time: 30 minutes when you make it ahead of time, 3 minutes to reheat and devour!

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I already showed you all this picture on Monday, but that Kale and Chickpea saute is a prime example of my typical lunch. I made two small servings and bulked it up with the pictured brown rice and toast. Prep time: 20 minutes when you make it ahead of time, 3 minutes to reheat and devour!

Dinner

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#yolkporn central! This was an awesome weekend dinner that I accompanied with sweet potato fries and wine. In a perfect world, I’d eat a big breakfast and lunch everyday, followed by a snacky dinner. Prep time: 30 minutes.dodgeballdinner

A perfect pre-dodgeball dinner. Tons of quinoa and roasted green beans. It was super filling, protein packed, but didn’t leave me feeling too bloated to run around and throw balls at people. 😉 Prep time: 20-25 minutespeanutchicken

My amazing Chicken in Spicy Peanut Sauce dinner that I was obsessed with and shared with you all. Still dreaming about this meal. Prep time: 30 minutes, less if you’ve made the rice ahead of time!

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I used most of a can of chickpeas to make the aforementioned Chickpea & Kale saute, and then I mashed the leftover chickpeas with some cream cheese (I didn’t have plain yogurt!), lemon juice, salt and pepper…Then I piled on some roasted red peps and spinach and called it a Chickpea Salad sandwich 🙂 Prep time: 10 minutes

miniturkeymeatloaves

After 3 months of being subscribed to Cooking Light magazine, I finally tried out a recipe. It was for Mini Greek Style Meatloaves, which I made into Mini Mexican Style Meatloaves.. because I am me, and I love cilantro. Paired with a mango salsa, it was AMAZING! Prep time: 30 minutesturkeyburger

Last night, I plopped the mini meatloaves on a thin bun and called it a turkey burger. Win. Prep time: 25 minutes (or however long your fries take to bake)

What I Eat if I Do Go Out

jamba

Several Friday mornings this month I’ve craved Jamba Juice. I think it must be the dodgeball beers on Thursday night that make me feel like I need to load up on nutrients Friday morning! I’ve been trying their fruit + veggie smoothies and, while they don’t taste as great as the purely fruit ones, at least I feel revived!

lowbrau

These are duck fat fries from LowBrau. I say if you eat healthily during the day, a bag of fries and an IPA makes a fine dinner 😉 Balance, people! They were screamin’ hot, and super crispy! We weren’t a huge fan of the beer cheese pictured (it reminded us too much of processed nacho cheese), so we ordered another garlicky cheese and were totally in business.

burgersnbrew

Burgers & Brew is one of T-Man’s favorite restaurants, so we go pretty often. Their burgers are amaaaazing, but often a lot to handle. I started getting this Turkey Avocado Melt and hooo boy is it good! Lots of protein and it is STUFFED full of avocado. Definitely recommend if you live in Sacramento or Davis!

What are your go-to breakfasts and lunches during the work week?

How often do you eat out during the week?